Karen Tayleur has published several middle-grade novels in Australia. This is her first teen novel. She lives in Australia with her husband and children.
Gr 9 Up-El Marini led a fabulous life, complete with everything money could buy. However, when this story begins, all of that is part of her past. She now lives in a small apartment with her mother and her sister. She misses her father, but he is absolutely not in the picture. She is resentful that her life has changed and that these circumstances are her reality. She is in a new school and she has made friends, tentatively, as she hopes to return to her old school soon. However, one of the things that helps her get through each day is the thought of Eric Callahan. He is beautiful, perfect, sporty, smart-and he has a girlfriend of the same caliber, Angelique. Dylan is a new student, like El, and they begin a love-hate relationship. El befriends Angelique, and it is Dylan who points out the flaws in the whole befriending-the-girl-who-is-dating-the-guy-you-like plan. El isn't ready to hear that yet, so she continues down the path she has chosen. There are disastrous results, but El uses all of the drama to learn about who she really is. There is great food for thought in this novel about friendships and what relationships mean, and the twist at the end should surprise readers. A solid choice that is sure to have wide appeal for chick-lit fans.-Emily Garrett Cassady, North Garland High School, Garland, TX Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
The provocative title and intriguing jacket treatment of Karen Tayleur’s Chasing Boys hint at a promising read. This first-person narrative is told from the perspective of Ariel Marini. She has recently been forced to move from her elite private school to Regis Secondary College due to the apparent desertion of her father. Now, her days are made worthwhile by hanging out with her two similarly outcast friends in the library at lunch and, far more importantly, by hanging out for contact with ‘school hottie’ Eric Callahan. The novel hardly rises from this level, which limits its readership to year seven to 10 alienated girls (of which there are many). The prose is crisp and minimal, the chapters are short and sharp, the narrative sustains interest by incorporating flashbacks and humour while progressing the plot at an impressive speed-it will therefore be an especially good choice for reluctant readers, or those with ‘better things to do.’ Don’t expect too much though, this version of the ugly duckling tale doesn’t challenge stereotypes: it accepts all the usual clichés about status that we are already overexposed to. However, we are sympathetic to Ariel and the author’s genuine compassion for her character is the novel’s saving grace. Along with the clever and (yes really!) unexpected twist at the end ... Leesa Lambert is a student, and bookseller at The Little Bookroom